Monday, August 31, 2009

Chinese Diet continued: Shall we skip breakfest?

I got a lot of hits on the Diet article I posted weeks ago; I guess a lot of people are interested to know more about Chinese Diet. Talking about amount of food to take for each meal, the eastern culture differs from western Culture. In western culture, dinner is the most important. The best food should be served during dinner and we eat a lot of food at dinner time. Some people also skip breakfast to lose weight.

Unlike this, Chinese people think all three meals are important. Their eating habit is based on “Full breakfast, good lunch and small dinner.” Morning is a time that a person is very hungry since you don’t eat during sleep and you need a lot of energy for work for whole day. Chinese think that you need to eat a lot food to start the day (I still obey the 80% rule on mine- see last article). For lunch, Chinese think it’s the most important meal. They want have good lunch food to balance the breakfast and dinner. Chinese don’t eat a lot of food for dinner. I obey the rule of don’t eat any food/snack during 3 hours before your bedtime. We believe that eating a lot of food will adding work for your stomach, your stomach should rest at night just like the rest of your body do. Overeating on dinner will seed stomach problem for future.

Talking about choices of food, many Chinese think "Two legs are better than four legs, one leg is better than two legs ( or without legs is better than two legs)" Basically, two legs means chicken or other birds, they are white meat which is better than red meat like cow or goat( four legs). One leg means fungus such as mushroom and without legs means fish. These comments are not totally true, because every integrant has it’s helpful side. I personally think all the foods are import to your body but I do think taking more veggies, less meat and eating bit more white meat and less red meat is the way to go.

Please feel free to comment on this, offer your suggestions and share with your friends and family. I will be happy to share more with you on type, choices, and way of making healthy food if you think these tips are helpful to you.

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi '09

Friday, August 21, 2009

Diet Plan for Tai Chi Practitioners & Rest of Us

While I was doing a Tai Chi Seminar, one student asked me,
“What do you eat for your daily life, what food is good for Tai Chi?”

My advice would be
“Don’t eat too much on one kind of food at once, even on some super food”.

For Example: Vitamin C is really good for your body, but if you take one bottle of Vitamin C, what will happen? Your diet should be a combination of Vegetable, grain, fruit and meat. You need to be careful about taking in different food. You should never eat too much. In Chinese, we say 80% full. Too much food will give a lot of work to your stomach and hurt your stomach in a long run.

We should not do Tai Chi with Empty stomach. If you have an empty stomach before doing Tai Chi, you should eat a little bit food, so you won’t feel dizzy or get a stomach ache while doing Tai Chi. Although it is not necessary to eat only vegetables, eating too much meat is not good for you since meat is acid and hard to digest. Don’t drink too much wine if you doing Tai Chi. Yang Chen Fu said that you shouldn’t do Tai Chi after too much wine.

Another very important reminder is that while exercise with Tai Chi, your breath will become long and deeper, which means a breath will go deeper to your chest. Strong wind and humidity can get into your body in this way. Yang Chen Fu also says to wear long sleeved clothes and not to perform in the wind. If you sweat, don’t take clothing off or take a cold shower, it will hurt your body. In the Ming Dynasty book “Talking of Cabbage Root”, it mentions that

“If you are always sick when you are old, it’s because you didn’t take care of your body when you were young.”

When you are young, you think you are ok to walk in the cold rain, you have fun under the strong wind while driving the boat, but these are actually hurting your body. It didn’t show because you are strong while you are young. These activities plant the seeds for sickness in you and they will occur in the future when you are older. When you know how to take care of your body while you are young, you will enjoy it more while you’re getting older.

Copyrighted By Huan's Tai Chi 09

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Demon in Zen

The Buddha said, “ There is no Demons in this world, Demon comes from own heart/mind”, there is a story behind it. A Chinese monk decided to detach himself from the human world and went to a temple in a mountain to practice Buddhism. Every time he sat in Zen meditation, a big black spider came to harass him. He went to talk to his Master monk, “ Every time I quiet myself during sitting meditation, this spider appears and I can’t chase him away. Master, please clear my confusion.” Master monk told him to leave a paint brush nearby during his next sitting meditation. “When the spider appears, please draw a circle on it’s stomach, it will then show it’s real face.” He did what the Master monk told him to do. After he drew the circle, the spider went away. Later on, after he done his mediation, he saw a big black circle on his own stomach. He realized the black spider was himself, this is what we call Demon comes from own heart/mind. Sometimes, you are not confident, doubt things because you can’t trust yourself.

Demon appears in many ways. For example, a new student came to my Tai Chi class and left because he believed he could not learn Tai Chi. When I critiqued his move, he felt embarrassed and thought he couldn’t do it. I could see he was over reacting to my comments. “No worries!” I told him “In Chinese, we say, you can’t eat and become fat in one night. When I was first learning martial arts, many times, it took me repeating 300 or more times in order to get one move right” After I explained to him that Tai Chi took a while to learn, he still thought that he wouldn’t be able to learn because it’s too complicated. He thought if he couldn’t learn a move in class that night, then he didn’t have what it took to learn the material. The readiness of your heart and mind is important in any situation such as accepting new things to your life. If you filled the Demon in your heart, then no new things can come through. Keeping your heart/mind clear and healthy and trusting in yourself will help you a long way in your life.

Copyrighted by Huan's TAI CHI '09

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time Control in Tai Chi

Once again, I had a student asked me how long she need to perform once on the 85 Yang style Tai Chi.

If you perform too fast, you cannot concentrate on details of each movement. If you move too slow as a beginner, it’s easy to have uneven speed of movements.

“ As a beginner, you may perform Tai Chi for as little as 15 minutes; however, as you progress, you will perform for 20 minutes. Eventually, you will perform as long as 40 minutes” My father mentioned in Tai Chi Magazine on “ Zhang Lu Ping on correct Use of Spine”

You might perform pretty fast when you start as a beginner. You might have problem to slow down. To help you slow down, usually I suggest you imaging yourself perform it under the water. Imagining there are a lot of water resistance to prevent you to move faster. It will help you increase your energy if you can imaging yourself perform under water because it takes effort if you do it slower. Say, you going to do a kick. If you kick fast, it’s easy. If you kick slower, it takes effort and strength.

I told a story about Tai Chi Master, Yang Lu Chan and Pa Gua Master, Dong Hai Chuan to my students. Dong learned Tai Chi from Yang Lu Chan. One day, yang went to visit him. Dong was doing a “lu”- rolls in. yang start to have cup of tea, after he finished his tea, Dong was still in middle of “lu”. That’s how slow some masters can do their Tai Chi.

Copyrighted by Huan's TAI CHI '09

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to listen with your hands?

When we doing TaI Chi Push hands, we always mention about listening energy. Listening energy has nothing to do with using your ears. Listening energy is about using you hands’ sensitivity to “listen” your opponent’s energy/force. It’s the key of push hands. What are the goals we use listening energy/use your hand’s skin’s sensitivity to identify ?

- Opponent’s energy/power’s size
- Direction of the energy
- If that power /energy is soft or hard
- If that power/energy is full or empty

After you identify the above, then you can decide what energy you going to apply back on the opponent and control his/her energy. It has to apply to every movement of your push hands, because energy changes in every movement. You decision of responding to the opponent will have to change all the time as well.

The key of listen energy is to touch, stick, connect and follow opponent’s hands and energy. Don’t against and lose. If you lose the connection, then you can’t listen. If you against other people’s energy, then you won’t listen well.

What’s your thoughts of energy listening? Any comments?

Copyrighted by Huan's TAI CHI2009

How to read a bull and do the same in Tai Chi and your life?

During the Spring and Autumn Period ( between 722BC and 481 BC), they are many countries in China. There is a country called Wei. The king of Wei is called Wei Hui Wang, also called Liang Hui Wang ( Liang is the capital of Wei). Once a Chef named Ding was invited to Liang Hui Wang’s home to demonstrate how to prepare a bull. You could see him holding the bull with his hands, using his shoulder to lean on the bull, use feet step on the bull, using his knee to lock the bull, he know exactly how to control the bull. After he first inserts the knife to the bull’s body, you can hear the sound of separation from different part of the bull, in harmony and sounds like music.

Liang Hui Wang was shocked and surprised by this.
“Wow, you are superb. How can you have techniques like this?”

Chef Ding said,
“I like to discover the way of how things work rather than just try to cut the bull apart. When I first start to learn how to cut a bull, I only saw a huge bull right in front of my eyes. After 3 years of experience, I understand the structure of a bull. When I read a bull, I don’t see a whole bull any more; I see the separate parts of the bull. After I have done so many times, I can just do it without seeing it with eyes. I know where are the places to insert the knife and places you shouldn’t insert knife, how to use the spaces between the parts of the bull body and avoiding to hurt my knife’s blade. A good chef needs to switch a knife once a year. A normal chef changes once a month, cause they often hit the bones when using their knife. I have been using this knife for 9 years, killed thousands of bulls, it’s still sharp and like new. Because there are gaps between the bones and muscle, my knife can swim around the bones. Sometimes, I have difficulty since some bull structure bit differently. I need to pay extra attention, slow down my movement and don’t use too much force. After I found the right spot, I can open it with one shot. The bull will fall like mud if you do it right. After I done a good job, I like to check the job and surround area, feel satisfied with my work, carefully clean my knife and put back in the knife bag, so it will be prepared for the next use.”

This is a story from Chuan Tzu’s book, it really inspires many people. We have the common people and Chef Ding in Tai Chi as well. Some people just tries to remember the whole Tai Chi set, chef Ding tries to find the structures and connections between each part. He found the ways to differ him than the common people. He try to use the minimum effort to get his Tai Chi done. chef Ding learned how to relax and slow down and pay extra attention to the difficult parts. Chef Ding checks his Tai Chi after done and reviews it before he feels satisfied. He also prepares for the next Tai Chi class. Learn the thoughts from chef Ding, you will do well in Tai Chi and life.

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

How to put a bowl of water over your head?

Someone online mentioned the English translation of my Grandmaster Fu Zhong Wen’s Tai Chi book “Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan” on 虛靈頂勁 'xu ling ding jin'. I see there are many points haven’t been explained and it can be explained in more details. They claim that’s grandmaster’s explanation. Of course, Grandmaster didn’t explain the same thing in Chinese. He doesn’t speak English, so the English explanation and understanding is how the translator thought what it means. The translator did a great job for explaining things but certain small details have been missed.

Let me explain these four letters again and backwards. Jin means energy. Ding means top of your head and also can mean support in Chinese. Ding Jin means your head should feel lifted. You can image a string pulling your head or top of your head is supporting a bowl of water. In Chinese, that feeling called“ “Hanging the Top of the Head”, or “Bai Hui facing the Sky”. Bai hui is the highest acupuncture point of your body. It lines with your ears atop/at center of your head. Following this principle will keep your whole body centered, vertical to the ground, and relaxed.

Now Ling means lively or flexibility. Many people mistaken this word with Chinese word Lin which means guide but it’s not the same word as Ling. Maybe half of the American people doing Tai Chi think Ling means guide, but that need to be corrected. Xu means Emptiness. It means your neck should not be stiff and you shouldn’t feel you use force to support that bowl of water. You should keep the flexibility and feel the emptiness. Feel the emptiness means you need to pay attention to the head support but you should also empty your mind by not especially to gathering all your attention to this.

If you want me to explaining further, I can explain in more plain words. While have the ding jin, your head should not lean forward and backward. You should not see the ground or see the ceiling. You should not lean left or right either. To keep the head hanging, you should tuck your chin in a bit to help. If you force to support your head then your neck will appear stiff and your blood will not circulate well. Grand Master Fu’s teacher Yang Chen Fu( grandson of the Creator of Yang Style Tai Chi) said, ”if ( you do) not have “Xu Ling Ding Jin”, then you can’t bring the energy out.”
If you want your energy flow while you doing Tai Chi whether this is for health or martial arts benefits, Xu ling Ding Jin is the first of the 8 basic Tai Chi methods you have to follow.

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi 2009